What’s driving the spike in COVID-19 cases higher than in November of 2020?

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe County is seeing another huge spike in COVID-19 cases. Five hundred fifty new cases were reported on Thursday. It’s the largest spike since Jan. 15, 2021.

News10NBC found out some of the root causes that local doctors say are driving up the numbers. They also put this in perspective.

This time last year before COVID-19 vaccines were even available, we were sitting at 230 positive cases. Thursday’s number of 550 more than doubles that.

When it comes to New York State, the Finger Lakes Region currently has the highest positivity rate for a seven-day rolling average. Dr. William Valenti, a Staff Physician at Trillium Health says there are three main reasons why numbers are rising: The delta variant, more people gathering indoors because of colder weather, and the fact that not enough people are vaccinated yet.

"The percentage of people fully vaccinated is around 65%, plus or minus, and I think we’re learning that it’s gonna take more people to be vaccinated probably 80 to 90%. I think closer to 90% of people fully vaccinated in order to really stop the virus spread," Valenti said.

Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza has another explanation.

"We are seeing an increase in numbers which I attribute to, you know, a decrease in vaccine effectiveness for, you know, a small but significant number of people in our population," Mendoza said.

With the Thanksgiving holiday just two weeks away, we asked Valenti about another possible spike. He said it’s too early to tell.

"It could, but you know we still have two weeks to get started with the vaccine. That will provide some immunity," Valenti said.

Better yet, all doctors have this same suggestion when gathering with family or friends.

"Wear a mask, and do some distancing. It isn’t over yet. We can do it. We really can, but these sort of change in seasons, having a better understanding of how the virus is spread tell us that we’re not there yet," Valenti said.

Pushing for more people to get vaccinated, or their booster shots, Dr. Mendoza pointed out that the rate of hospitalization for unvaccinated individuals is nearly 10 times that of vaccinated people.